Home / Car News / Watch In Awe As These Men Carry 300 Pound Engines And 500 Pound Axles On Their Backs To Save Money At A Junkyard

Watch In Awe As These Men Carry 300 Pound Engines And 500 Pound Axles On Their Backs To Save Money At A Junkyard

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“60 for 60” is the name of the absurd promotion Detroit-area junkyard “U.S. Auto” runs every year. The rules are simple: No matter which car parts, if you can carry them 60 feet, you can buy them for just $60. Many wrenchers — keen to save a bundle of money — try carrying absurdly heavy contraptions: everything from entire engines to transmissions to transfer cases. One man even carried an entire 500 pound heavy-duty axle. Watch in awe as this madness unfolds.

My go-to junkyard is U.S. Auto in Sterling Heights, Michigan. Standing on the grounds of the famous defunct “Warhoops” salvage yard, the place is always filled to the brim with classics. Plus, it’s fairly clean, and, most importantly, it’s right up the street from my compoun…er, house. Anyway, a while back the company held its annual “60 for 60” sale, and I figured I’d record the whole thing because it’s absolutely absurd:

Jeremy Benson, the guy carrying the General Motors Ecotec inline-four (found in Saturn Ions, Vues, Chevy Cobalts, Pontiac G6s, etc.) in the video above and picture below, is a legend. While preparing to haul his third engine of the day, Benson told me it was his fourth year participating in 60 for 60, and that he’s carried eight engines in total. That’s 480 feet of travel while lugging a 350 pound motor on his back. That’s a lot of work (Work equals force times distance, so I could probably calculate roughly exactly how much, but that’s probably not a great way to spend my time), but it saved him a total of over $2,000, since engines typically cost $325. Whether his chiropractor bill will offset those savings, we don’t know. But I hope not.

Jeremy explained how he uses a sawzall to cut cars up to free their engines, then he unbolts those engines from their transmissions and uses the junkyard’s pulley-style crane to drop each engine into a wheelbarrow. As for how he carries the motors, his strategy is the same as most folks’ at the 60 for 60 event in that it involves cutting off some seat belts and using them to carry the loot like a backpack.

To make sure the motor doesn’t cut into his spine, Jeremy shoves a piece of sound-deadening insulation between the engine and his back.

The heaviest load I saw any single person carry was the Ford F-250 axle shown in the images above and below. If my cursory internet search is right, this younger guy — whom I heard cutting this axle out of a truck using what sounded like a sawzall — put roughly 500 pounds on his back that day.

The man crouched down under the ratchet strap/seatbelt combo he had tied to the axle, and quickly stood up using his thigh muscles. The strap tightened, his rate of standing slowed almost to a halt. But he kept pushing with his legs until he had raised the axle off the ground.

Then, with one foot ahead of the axle and one behind, he hobbled forward, one tiny step at time. The man took a number of breaks, and I could see the strain in his face when he realized each break was over and that he wasn’t done carrying this 500 pound axle. Eventually, though, this strongman made it across the finish line and quickly fell to the ground to take a long breather:

All of that work to save $125 (The typical axle price is $185). I don’t know if it was worth it for him, but it was incredibly entertaining for everyone looking on.

The guy above used a roof rack and some cargo nets to carry a bunch of lights and head restraints. The guy below took a very different strategy. He didn’t hook up any straps or make any sort of makeshift carrying-device — he just had his buddies stack parts into his arms. And many of these parts weren’t light; I mean, look at the steel rotors in his hands, and check out the two cylinder hands wedged into his elbows. I also see an alternator, caliper, muffler, shifter, and a whole lot more:


This gentleman scored four fairly nice tires for only 60 bucks — that’s a great deal:

Here’s a guy carrying an automatic transmission on his back (again, using the seatbelt-as-strap trick):

These guys tied seatbelts to a headliner, and used that as a tray to carry bumpers, doors, and lights — all of which are usually quite expensive. A single door is normally $60, a bumper cover is $35, a taillight is $20, and a headliner is $25. But these two guys paid just $120 total for their mountain of hardware:

Somehow the two guys directly below managed to carry an entire Chevrolet S10 pickup truck bed filled with two seats, a GMC truck header panel, a spare wheel, brake rotors, a transfer case, intake parts, some body parts that I can’t quite identify, and more:

This dude below used a huge radiator as a tray to carry his parts. I see a headrest, a mirror, and some kind of air intake component. Plus, as you can see in the video above (but not the image below), there’s a big turbocharger tucked into his jacket.

The group in the photos below threw a bunch of hoods, doors, and fenders onto what looks like a pickup truck cap.

This team of three struggled at first, in part because their straps they were lifting from weren’t long enough, in part because the cap-frame to which they tied those straps was bending quite a bit, but mostly because the load was just so awkwardly large and heavy. They did eventually manage to get across the finish line, but it wasn’t pretty:

Anyway, watch that video above to see all of the madness of that glorious 60 for 60 day.

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49 Responses

  1. In the late 80s when I was much younger/stronger, I helped a friend in central Massachusetts carry a driveshaft and rear axle for a RWD Toyota Corolla out the gate of a similar junkyard. Back then it cost $30/person. We just needed to carry it out the gate, there was no requirement to carry it a certain distance. The Toyota axle was nothing compared to that Ford one in the video, though it still was by no means light. The junkyard was kind enough to lift the car up onto risers for us so we could walk underneath to remove the stuff we needed. Oh and it was in the middle of winter and cold as *&^%.

  2. They changed the rule at a pick ur part local to me. Anything you can fit in a bucket $10. Well a b18 Honda motor partially wedges into it ..and I carried it in, not by the handle mind you lol… Got it for $10 bucks… After that it can’t extend past the top of the bucket 12 inches ????

      1. What I think is even more incredible is they don’t have a limit on half off days… I’ll show up with my trailer lol. Last time I spent 4k I’m parts and was there 7 hours. But in total I made just that much back and saved my customers vehicles in shop close to that overall is well. I don’t get special privileges, but I do get some insider info on cars coming in…s oring a 2nd gen 5.0 for $150, why yes I shall partake! ????

      1. It always and still is just 5 gallons… I’m a nog guys so it wasn’t hard carrying the b18 with the bucket. I set it on the floor the bucket wasnt happy but that engine was just chilling in it lmao

  3. Not really related but a fun place to reminisce about how as a young Marine Sergeant I used to put up $20 to match bids that I couldn’t pick up and move a standard pool table ten feet. Never lost my money but did make a bit. My technique? I would hunker down underneath and lift it on my back using my legs. After it was off the floor the rest was easy. Ooh Rah!

  4. DT should submit this to the IOC for inclusion in the next Olympics (either that or FailArmy). While it was smart to keep the EMS team and ambulance out of the camera range, the inclusion of motorman’s butt crack was frightening.

  5. Events like there are always fun, especially when they are unplanned.

    A few year back I had an Mazda6 wagon that was in pretty good mechanical shape, but the doors were dinged up and the interior was beat to shit. So I started looking for one with a crap drivetrain but good panels and interior. Low and behold I find one on CL with a pristine body, full leather interior, and most importantly, a $250 asking price. Not even concerned about the engine, I immediately get on the phone, confirm it’s still available, grab the car trailer and head out. When I get there I find out why it was so cheap – the engine and transmission had been pulled (the AT ate itself and they found it easier to pull the whole assembly together) and the engine was still sitting on a stand in the shop. I was buying only the rolling shell and interior – exactly the parts I needed.

    As I was getting the car up onto the trailer, the shop owner (and former vehicle owner) came up and asked if I wanted the engine too. After informing him I didn’t need it and therefore wouldn’t pay more for it, he joked that I could have it for free if I could get it into the truck on my own. 20 minutes, 3 ratchet straps, and about a gallon of sweat later I had that 360# lump moved from the back of his shop, out into the parking lot, and up in the bed of the truck. He stuck by his comment, we shook hands, and 3 months later I ended up dropping that engine into a friends project car.

  6. Reminds me of old days throwing Triumph parts over the fence at a foreign car salvage yard and picking it all up later after paying a couple bucks for some head bolts.
    Everything at a salvage yard’s a bargain if you can’t find it anywhere else but the OEM.

  7. I watched this live on Facebook or something last year and it was amazing viewing. I think they had a 2 people for $120 rule if you wanted to tag team carrying something. They had someone build a frame to carry an engine on two people’s shoulders. One guy went down hard and looked like he could have broken an ankle or something. Later, they got another guy to carry that end and were successful getting it across the line. The successful trip is at 5:30 in this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UAND4V6wQ8

  8. That’s awesome! And I think I’ve been to that yard when I was visiting family (y’all have impressive selection at your junkyards there – it truly is motor city) and we have similar sales here too. But what this reminds me of were the not so official contests like carrying a windshield from all the way back with the help of my pill addicted friend who was having a sort of lucid day and somehow we managed not to break it. And carrying a Subaru engine with two is easy if slightly awkward. Oh yeah, medium sized Coleman coolers without the top are perfect Subie engine stands.

  9. You could do a versus battle, with a Jason-led team trying to build a Beetle, and a David-led team going for a Jeep. Or, you could do a collaborative effort and try to build an unholy combination of the two…

  10. OK. OK. You need to assemble a team, train them to become a ragtag group of fit, merciless autopian assassins, then collectively take advantage of one of these days to procure and assemble an entire vehicle. Your training montage would be set to “One Piece at a Time”.

  11. Typical axle price is WHAT? Dude, I would carry a set of ton’s 100 feet if i could pay 200 here. When we were swapping my JK to 3/4 ton units I couldn’t find a matching set for less than $1500!!!!

  12. Outside my hometown we had a locally famous junk yard that had a push/pull/or drag policy set at $100. Surely not as good as a $60 event, but this was every weekend. Guys would grab a hood and load it up.

  13. At all the pick-n-pulls I’ve ever been to, they have fairly strict no-collateral-damage rules. If you accidentally break something they’re not gonna kick you out, but sawing through other parts is definitely against the rules. I’m surprised this place lets people go ham, I guess they have a surplus of cars, since every part they destroy is a part the place can’t sell.

      1. That’s okay its the folks who hammer holes in dashboards to get switches or cut brackets to get other parts off- I also hate that the yards puncture fuel tanks to drain the fuel so you can never get t good one- even though they list them on their price sheet

    1. My grandpa snapped his second artificial hip carying a Datsun L20B in his shop because the shop boy didn’t put it away like he was supposed to once. Basically don’t let old injuries hold you back until they become new ones again.

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